Bend is a gateway to some of the best outdoor activities in the Northwest. The city caters to those on a budget or to no budget at all. You can be high in the mountains sightseeing in the cool air in the afternoon and shortly after be in the warm heat of Bend just minutes down the road. Here are some things to see and do in Bend. If it is underlined, it links to my page with more information, pictures & maps.
WillhiteWeb.com - Oregon Sights
Pilot Butte is an in-town highpoint with panoramic views of the region. You can drive or hike to the top of this old cinder cone located on the east end of town.
Deschutes River Trail in town
Walk the river trail between Farewell Bend Park near the Old Mill District going downstream to Drake Park and Mirror Pond. The path meanders along the water with large ponderosa pine trees all along the way.
Tumalo Falls is located 11 miles west of town on Galveston Avenue/Skyliners Road. Tumalo is a 100-foot-high waterfall with many picture opportunities as well as short hiking trails around the falls.
Lava Butte is part of the Newberry Volcano, a short drive south on Hwy. 97. Lava Butte has a Visitor Center at the base before you drive and hike to the 500-foot summit. The top has a fire lookout, one of the easiest to reach in the state. The Lava River Cave is just a mile south of the visitor center and is the longest cave of its kind in Oregon.
Also nearby, south of Bend is Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Here you will find two turquoise lakes inside the 18 mile Newberry Caldera, which is packed full of recreation opportunities. A scenic drive takes you to the mountain summit where sweeping views are waiting. You can also hike up the 4 mile trail to the top or hike/bike the 21 mile trail around the monument. A seven mile trail wraps around Paulina Lake and Paulina Falls is an 80 foot waterfall. Also walk around the Big Obsidian Flow, the largest in the county.
In summer, you can take a ride up Bachelor for the easiest and most amazing views on top of this large volcano.
Smith Rock State Park is world renowned for its rock climbing. Non-climbers can have just as good a visit watching and enjoying the very scenic Crooked River with the rock towers overhead.
Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway
The Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway is probably the most scenic drive in Oregon. It offers breathtaking views of South Sister, Mount Bachelor and Broken Top, and Devilís Lake. Along the way you can stop at Mt. Bachelor, Sparks Lake, and many other viewpoints. At Elk Lake you can rent a kayak or paddle board to explore the lake. The road crosses the Pacific Crest Trail, a good option if you want to hike, or go for Third Sister which is accessed from the highway. Also visit the historic Elk Lake Guard station which opened in 1929 for Forest Service, now an official historic sight and an information center.
The furthest site listed here from Bend is Crater Lake. But, since it is such a destination location, it is worth the extra day to drive down there, spend the day, and return to Bend. If you drive to Bend, make your visit as part of the route getting or returning from home. The lake is at an elevation of 7,100 feet, five miles across and nearly a mile deep, the deepest in the US. Crater Lake is the top of a volcano and the lake is the crater. Drive the road around the lake seeing all the vistas, hikes and geological features.
South Sister is one of the most climbed mountains in the United States. It is one of the larger volcanoes in the cascades and can be climbed in summer by regular hikers with no climbing experience necessary. The hike is still tough for many but the danger is minimal.
The High Desert Museum
Unique living museum of cultural and natural history with variety of indoor and outdoor exhibits. Nature trails, galleries, walk-through pioneer and American Indian scenes, live animals and pioneer presentations.
Crater Lake National Park
Paulina Peak Overlook
Paulina Lake & Peak
Pilot Peak Viewpoint
South Sister Mountain
Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway
Old Mill District
Crooked River Canyon
Smith Rock State Park
Sawyer Park at the north end of town offers traditional park features like picnicking and grassy areas but because of its location, offers fun rock features, the Deschutes River access, a bridge and trails for both easy strolls or longer hikes.
Located in Downtown Bend, Drake Park is a historic park with a half mile of Deschutes River waterfront on Mirror Pond.
Bend hosts the big Oregon Winterfest, the largest festival in Bend which celebrates the winter season.
Possibly the largest waterfall on the Deschutes River, Benham Falls is more like a huge cascade than a traditional waterfall. The water drops over a series of ledges as the river passes through a large gorge.
Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint offers some spectacular views of the Crooked River Canyon. Its also a rest area and a state park.
For highpointers with kids, there's nothing better than a summit in a city park. Awbrey Butte is the highest point in Bend